Sunday, June 24, 2012

Goodbye, mountains


The 5th largest city in the whole world with over 25 million people crammed ungracefully inside its borders.  A mixture of semi-modernity and poverty.  Where downtown resembles more of a trash dump than a hotspot.  Where the name of God has often been heard but rarely understood.  Where idols stand on every street and every corner of the city, representing the population’s desperate hope in their desperate future.  But God loves this city so I will learn to as well.

As much as I have a love/hate relationship with this city, we are going to be moving back to there much earlier than planned.  This Sunday, July 1st, we’ll be heading back there for good.  The original plan was to stay in the mountains till late September, but God saw fit to mix that up a little. Between the four of us, we can’t seem to stay well here.  L has had a small relapse of typhoid and we’re continually worried about John being sick.  Part of that reason is the food and water, since we have no control over how it’s prepared.  Indians are not known for their sanitary habits….let’s just leave it at that. Other reasons include business, and M’s boss has called him back to the city.

So it’s goodbye to mountain life and hello to the heat of the city.  There are pros and cons to leaving.  The biggest con is the heat.  All summer, it’ll be about 120 degrees on a regular basis, and along with that, the humidity of the monsoon season will be at its most aggressive.  Thankfully we’ll have air conditioning where we live (which we don’t have now), but I still think that a temperature that hot belongs on an oven and not outside.  I might melt.

But the pros outweigh any regrets I have about leaving the beautiful environment of Landour and Mussoorie.  L&M will be able to set up their home and not have to live in a guesthouse.  They’ll have more control about how their food is prepared and what they feed John.  No more suitcases, no more living out of a box.  I’ll even be able to have my own apartment for a couple months.  I haven’t seen it yet, but apparently it’s “okay” in L’s words.  It’s what you might typically think of an Indian apartment.  But I’ll have AC!  Very important. :)

I’ll miss the mountains for sure, but there are some things I won’t miss.  In the city, the people are much more used to foreigners, and although still rude and obnoxious, they are much better than the people in Mussoorie in regards to white females.  Perfect example: the other day I got to school a little early and was waiting in my classroom for my teacher.  Some tourists came in to the building, checking out the architecture.  Apparently they weren’t supposed to be in the building while class was in session, but I didn’t feel like it was my place to say so.  The Indian family came in to look at the room and found me sitting there, and between my limited Hindi and their limited English, we spoke for about 5 minutes.  They left, and I heard them meet up with my teacher down the hall as she was coming towards the classroom.  She came back in and told me that they, not knowing she was the teacher, had told her that it was now her turn to go talk to the white woman in the room.  Apparently they thought I was some kind of tourist attraction.  I couldn’t help but laugh, but I thought…really?? Am I that different??  Here’s hoping that the city will be better.

Living in the city will offer many more conveniences than in Landour.  There are malls, coffee shops, and places to get American food.  I’ll also have many more opportunities to visit orphanages, girls’ hostels, and schools.  We have a lot of connections there, and I’m excited about what’s ahead for me.  Pray that I have the courage to take the chances given to me.  One more week here to enjoy the mountains, then we’re off to a whole new world.  I’ll have to get used to another new normal, but this one should be adventurous to say the least.

Other than that, the only other thing that’s been going on with me has been a week of insomnia.  In 6 days, I’ve gotten less than 15 hours of sleep.  Things that being exhausted beyond belief has NOT helped: learning Hindi, culture shock (which has hit big time), a battle with a spider as big as my palm (didn’t handle that well at all), and dealing with throbs of people who think I come from a circus.  No fun, I tell you.  But thankfully I got a full night of sleep last night so we’re on our way back to normal.  Huge praise!  
I must say that I’m learning the hard way how crucial it is to be in the Word every day.  I’m quite a slow learner it seems, and I often choose the most difficult path of self-pity before I decide to allow the joy of the Lord to be my strength.  Psalm 19:7-14 has been a passage I go to continually.  It shows me that refreshment, joy, strength, and wisdom have one source: God and His Word.  How often I forget.

Anyways, I’ll keep you updated on life here.  Sometimes I hesitate to write updates too often because life becomes mundane here just as it does in the States, so I don’t want to bore you.  But -- If anyone has any questions about stuff or thoughts or feedback I’d LOVE to hear it.  Facebook is a great way to do that.

Keep praying – pray for our move to the city and that we adjust quickly to city life. L&M finding an apartment as fast as possible is really crucial!

And on the typhoid front, I’m doing just fine.  Since L is struggling with a relapse (manageable by antibiotics), I’m a little worried that with a weakened immune system from not sleeping, it could be possible for me, but so far I’m feeling great.  Thank you for your love and prayers!  I need them now more than normal.  Culture shock has set in a little and I’m needing extra grace. :)

Love to all!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

It really is the little things...

So I’m a little homesick.  After a month and a half, it’s set in.  I can’t say I didn’t expect it, but let’s just say I’m looking at it with the same perspective I’ve been looking at typhoid: it’s a sickness and please make it go away.  It’s natural I suppose to find myself missing home, missing people, missing American food, missing everyday (western) life, but honestly, it’s no fun.

So in order to help get over this sad and depressed feeling, I’ve decided not only to spend extra time in the Word (because that’s where true encouragement and joy comes from), but to also put myself through a little exercise I’d like to call “Although”.  Basically, I contrasted something hard about India with something I’m thankful for.  Some are really trivial, some aren’t at all, but I thought I’d share a few of them with you.  After all, there are lessons to be learned - even in homesickness.

1.  Although I’m far away from friends and family and I miss them a lot, I’m thankful for two very good friends I have here.  They have been encouraging and loving at every turn, and we keep each other laughing.
2.  Although I am already tired of eating rice and dahl (a curried lentil mixture) every single day, I’m thankful I have food.  Especially since people living less than a mile away from me don’t have it. 

3.  Although I usually have about 5 flies in my room at all times, I haven’t seen any cockroaches or scorpions yet!! (This is way more important than you think)

4.  Although my shower does little more than spit at me and I have to heat up my water, at least I can take one, and there is instant running water.

5.  Although I can’t actually drink the water here, we do have bottled water!

6.  Although we have to walk everywhere we go (which means uphill both ways…not kidding), I’m thankful that I have two working legs, and that I actually enjoy walking!  Not to mention these hills have been a good substitute for running.

7.  Although I miss playing the piano…really bad, I have a guitar that was given to me, and I’m learning another instrument.

8.  Although I really miss cooking and planning my own meals, I haven’t had to do dishes in over a month!

9.  Although we don’t have air conditioning, I’m really thankful for this little fan Michael bought me because it’s really hot outside.  And soon, it’ll be monsoon season, which means it’ll be cold anyway.

10.  Although I miss Sunday mornings at Countryside SO much, I’m thankful I can listen to the sermons online.  They’ve been such an encouragement, and it’s nice to hear a familiar voice :)

11.  Although I got Typhoid and it was pretty miserable, I’m mostly better now.  Thank God for antibiotics and a (terrible) vaccine!  I’m learning to value my health even more than I already did.

12.  Although it’ll be 5 more months till I see my friends again, I’m thankful for Skype and Voxer and Facebook because it helps me keep up with those I love, and makes me feel like I’m not forgotten about :)

13.  Although I miss wearing tank tops and shorts (especially in this heat), I was happy to find that Indian clothes are actually quite comfortable.  And cheap!  I had an entire outfit made for me, and from fabric to tailor, it cost me less than $10.  Score!

14.  Although this wifi is sketchy at best, at least I have it.  And usually it allows me to do most of the things I want to do.

15.  Although I miss Kansas, I’m thankful Mussoorie and Landour look nothing like it.  These mountains are beautiful!

16.  Although I miss hearing English and seeing English, I am learning to speak Hindi.  And the more I learn, the more people I’ll be able to reach.  My heart just bleeds for the children here.  Can’t wait till I know enough of their language to tell them that they are loved.  (By the way, I’m starting a project about the children of India, involving a few trips to orphanages and research around Landour and Delhi.  More on that later…)

17.  Although there are many cultural barriers that I’m learning my way around, I’m thankful that a smile transcends all of those.

18.  Although India is the loudest place on earth (especially at night), I have a sound machine that could block out the sound of a nuclear bomb.  Puts me right to sleep, no problem.

19.  Although traffic in the city is so crazy it makes me want to cry (why do they waste paint on lane dividers?), I’m thankful that God has kept us safe through some very close calls. And you think I’m a crazy driver…

20.  Although I miss driving, I have my beautiful car waiting for me when I get home.  I couldn’t drive here anyways.  They drive on the left side and I’m still not used to it.

21.  Although I’m tired of being stared at because I’m a white female….wait….I can’t think of anything good about that.  It’s super annoying and really awkward.

22.  Although I’m not being spoon-fed spiritually by a pastor or small group or a mentor, I’m learning straight from the Word, and to me that’s way more special.  I love hearing right from the heart of God.  He can teach me things no one else can.

23.  Although sometimes it's exhausting living your ENTIRE life out of your comfort zone, I’m thankful I’m always learning because that means He hasn’t left me alone

24.  I’m thankful that I just heard about a bakery shop down in the village that sells chocolate chip cookies.  I’ve been craving those for weeks.  No drawbacks about that!  Can’t wait to check it out later tonight.

25.  Although sometimes a 10 and ½ hour time difference can be frustrating when trying to communicate with people back home, I LOVE waking up to a bunch of messages that people left me overnight.

26.  Although radio is not an option here, I still have my country music playlist on my iPod that makes me happy every time I listen to it.

27.  Although I’m lonely sometimes, I’m thankful that it’s just in my head.  I was promised that I would never be left alone, and I am learning to choose to believe it.

After writing all that, I’m already encouraged.  The right perspective is so important, and sometimes, it really is the little things!